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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20%
Worth A Look47.78%
Average: 20%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 1.11%

7 reviews, 48 user ratings

Over the Hedge
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by brianorndorf

"More Hammy, less story"
3 stars

Dreamworks Animation at least gets the whirring energy of comedy right in “Over the Hedge.” It’s just a disappointment that the filmmakers felt the need to obsessively follow the family film screenwriting rulebook. Great voicework and spirit win out in the end, but if the film would’ve let loose and remained a zany comedy, “Hedge” would’ve been an animated home run.

After destroying a hibernating bear’s (voiced by Nick Nolte) food stash, raccoon RJ (Bruce Willis) is forced to gather up a replacement before the season is over. Desperate, RJ meets up with a pack of animals (including William Shatner, Avril Lavigne, Wanda Sykes, Eugene Levy, and Catherine O’Hara) also searching for food to sustain them over the next winter. After convincing them of the great promise the new suburban development over the hedge holds for snacks, RJ leads an attack on the neighborhood, alienating the group leader, turtle Verne (Garry Shandling), who slowly realizes RJ’s deceptions, but is powerless to convince his friends of it.

This new CG animated world of cinema has quickly fallen into monotony; Pixar has established the screenwriting standard, perfecting their rudimentary 3rd act “message” movements and reliance on cute and cuddly characters, and now Dreamworks animation is constantly left to play catch-up. Aiming directly at convention, “Hedge” (based on an obscure comic strip by Michael Fry and T. Lewis) is a frustrating picture because Dreamworks plays it far too safe to make something truly special.

“Hedge” is a bubbly picture with a stable premise and a dependable voice cast. Stand back just a bit and there’s nothing blatantly offensive about the product; but something feels off about the screenwriting, which crosses slapstick with random studio-mandated stabs at heartstring tugging. There’s nothing inherently wrong with caring for this armada of forest animals, I just wish directors Tim Johnson and Karey Kirkpatrick would’ve taken greater care to introduce TJ’s last act spasms of remorse gradually, instead of bulldozing it home just because they’ve reached a certain page number in the script. The second half of “Hedge” can be quite a bore for those who can see past the purposefully distracting colors and the frothy mayhem. The story starts to take itself somewhat seriously, and begs the viewers to fall in love with RJ instead of, more interestingly, trusting they will. The standard CG screenwriting template just doesn’t fit here.

Why should second-rate scripting be a concern? Because “Hedge” can be ruthlessly entertaining when it wants to be, and that isn’t nearly enough.

In the suburban infiltration sequences, “Hedge” is a clever contraption, mixing light satire on suburban social traditions and the bad nutritional habits of humans with expected furball goofiness. It comes together in a mix that should appeal to the Saturday afternoon minivan crowd along with animation purists who crave the attention to joke detail the film provides often spectacularly well. Watching RJ manipulate his “troops” is a kick, and the screenwriters make a concerted effort to allow time for each character’s animal trait to be explored, or, in the case of Sykes’s skunk, fully exploited. “Hedge” is gangbusters with its carefree tone and slapstick humor, and succeeds in laughs where other CG features tend to sputter.

Maybe not so curiously, the most sublime character in “Hedge” is Hammy, an overexcited, perpetually nervous squirrel. The spastic animal adds some needed subtle jokes to the film, as well as providing an anarchic spirit that the movie eventually abandons, and then clumsily tries to reignite for a big finale. Actor Steve Carell blends completely with his animated counterpart, vocally and visually pinballing around the frame with glee and child-like impatience, culminating the film’s biggest laugh: Hammy getting his hotly desired opportunity to drink a caffeinated soda.

“Hedge” is surely an entertaining film, but it needed more of Hammy’s level of inspiration, instead of creaky plot machinations.

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originally posted: 05/19/06 13:34:11
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell entertaing i liked it 4 stars
5/29/09 ahh amazing 5 stars
1/10/09 Anonymous. adorable and funny :] 4 stars
4/01/08 yamin 22 yrs old and i love this movie... but u gotta catch the satire 5 stars
8/04/07 Reza Maddahi magnificent and friutfull movie for all ages 4 stars
7/18/07 amateur madman completely halairious 5 stars
6/01/07 ES I liked it 4 stars
3/21/07 man I thought it was lame 2 stars
2/09/07 Soranos Average movie, I liked the 3D animation and characters though. 3 stars
2/08/07 Matt Works for kids and ttheir parents alike. Hammy the squirrel is a classic! 4 stars
1/09/07 David Cohen 7 minute short dragged out to 90, Shandling is particualrly miscast 3 stars
1/07/07 Quicksilver cute animals, good actors, but traditional Disney cheesiness smothers these good points. 3 stars
1/03/07 anthony david loved the show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! thought it was HILARIOUS 5 stars
12/29/06 Jennifer Raven a total scream! too funny 5 stars
12/27/06 Jim Stephens It should hav been drawn instead of "rendered" - the characters border on ugly. 2 stars
12/13/06 Natalie i loved this so much... of course, hammy's my favourite character... 5 stars
12/04/06 Hammy101 I loved hammy- he was halerious! i loved it as much as i did with "Madagaskar" and "TheWild 5 stars
12/04/06 Dana Lundin I loved Hammy, it was hilarious 4 stars
11/27/06 sirina it was fun for little kids 2 stars
11/15/06 Mark much funnier than gifven credit for. several laugh-out-loud moments 4 stars
11/06/06 Senator Claghorn This from the guy who thought Cars was "awe inspiring?" 4 stars
11/01/06 Rjlover i loved it. someone who hated it, has no sense of humor. I wuv hammy and rj! 5 stars
11/01/06 matthew henry I'm in college and I still loved it. Scathing social critique combined with funny story 4 stars
10/23/06 antne Absolutely rocks, Dave Corneliuis is a sour puss,doesn't have a funny bone in his body. 5 stars
10/19/06 Charles Tatum Hilarious, the best animated film of 2006 5 stars
10/16/06 Senoa This was guite good, good voice acting. Hammy on caffeine must be seen to believe! 4 stars
9/07/06 Stephanie Throckmorton Despite caricaturing humans as monsters, one of the more entertaining films of the year. 4 stars
8/07/06 Del It was cute, but I actually was happy when it was finally over 3 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Surprisingly good. Funny, inventive, and a kick-ass Ben Folds soundtrack. Better than most. 4 stars
8/06/06 doesn't matter hated it, hated it, hated it 1 stars
7/15/06 rusty builds slowly but by the end I was laughing hard 4 stars
7/01/06 Gerry Irons Best Non-Pixar CGI Film Yet- Still Aims Low- Very entertaining but sadly simple trite story 3 stars
6/30/06 Dave Webber Great fun flick - totally loved Bruce Willisin this! 5 stars
6/19/06 ken thackrey its awsome 5 stars
6/18/06 Violet not funny 2 stars
6/17/06 nicolecrom2678 AWESOME FUNNY!! 5 stars
6/07/06 Quigley not so much funy as it was entertaining. Steve Carell was absolutely awesome as Hammy 4 stars
6/06/06 James Awesome animation & voice acting; anyone who says it sucks has their head up their ass 5 stars
6/05/06 Jon The Best Since Shreck 2 D00d 5 stars
5/28/06 your worst goddamn nightmare Such a funny little movie... I was so pleasantly surprised! 4 stars
5/23/06 Mase Kind of a patchwork of current animated family films. Carrel and Sykes shine brightly 4 stars
5/23/06 Melina Awesome movie! Thoughtful, funny and perfect for everybody! 5 stars
5/22/06 KingNeutron ROTFLMAO - this one is definitely worth the buy. 4 stars
5/22/06 Anin Azdnok I think this was the best movie ever! 5 stars
5/20/06 Pokejedservo Decent-at-best soundtrack mars an otherwise above above par film 4 stars
5/20/06 San Lamar funny film 5 stars
5/19/06 Staci My kids enjoyed it so it's good enough for me. 4 stars
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  19-May-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 17-Oct-2006



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